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Sub-Saharan Africa backs Lagarde as next IMF chief

Central and Southern African states back French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as next head of the International Monetary Fund, her Republic of Congo counterpart Matata Mapon said Friday.

“We are encouraged by your vision of the IMF in the world,” he told Lagarde, at a meeting in Lisbon of the African Development Bank (ADB).

Mapon, who said later he was speaking for ADB governors from sub-Saharan Africa, added that her candidacy met the requirements and he was “reassured” that Lagarde would be “benevolent” towards Africa if she is appointed.

“We wish you very good luck,” he added.

Lagarde was the leading candidate to be the next managing director of the IMF as nominations closed on Friday to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after being charged with the attempted rape of a New York hotel maid.

She had attended the Lisbon meeting to lobby for support for her candidacy, after a visit to China, and is to go on to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Ivory Coast Finance Minister Charles Koffi Diby also expressed support for Lagarde on behalf of the IMF’s French-speaking African group.

Other countries at the ADB meeting which backed her included Morocco, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Guinea and Mauritius.

The African Union said Thursday that the next IMF head should be a non-European, and preferably an African, in a break with Europe’s stranglehold on the post.

“Selecting a non-European and particularly someone from the developing world would go a long way in increasing the voice and representation at the IMF for these countries,” it said.

“The case for an African IMF managing director also arises from the fact that Africa is emerging as a new pole for global growth with huge potential.”

However the only African tipped to run for the post, former South African finance minister Trevor Manuel, said Friday he had not put his hat in the ring.

Mexico’s central bank governor Agustin Carstens is the leading contender from the developing world.